For many, Thanksgiving is a holiday of family, friends, football, festivities, and a dollop (or more) of indulgence. For runners it can often become a holiday of some much needed rest but also a sharp detour from your normal healthy regimen. I’ll be the last to try and deter anyone from fully enjoying the wonderful nature of a seemingly endless feast where sitting on the couch and socializing is the activity of choice. However, I know that Friday A.D. (After Desserts) can be particularly rough when you have a training plan to follow and the ever precious mileage to complete. Late Fall is a great time to schedule a peak/goal race or two and at Charge we don’t want a day of turkey love to derail your preparation. Here’s how to do Thanksgiving the runner’s way:
1. Get your work in early!
Whatever workout, mileage, or cross training you have scheduled for the day, be sure to get it done early in the morning. The last thing you want is to have a 10 miler or 5x2 mile tempo run hanging over your head while you simply want to enjoy the company and fun. Equally as important is not skipping your scheduled work just because it’s Thanksgiving. Runners have a nasty habit of skipping sessions and then trying to frantically make up for that missed work. This often times leads to injury or making exceptions elsewhere. Unless previously planned as an off day within the workings of your routine, wake up early and get to work! Enjoy the fruits of your labor afterwards.
*Editor’s Note: A great idea is to schedule a casual Turkey Trot race or even a Charge Race (sign up for the Run Now, Gobble Later 5k) to hold you more accountable and at the very least you can jog it and still get in some strong mileage.
2. Enjoy but DON’T Binge
Thanksgiving meal spreads are not inherently unhealthy, people simply tend to aim their forks at the least healthy options. For runners, the options are plenty in terms of healthy, activity/recovery supporting items. Focus yourself on the complex, natural carbohydrates, the nutrient rich sides, and the grand daddy of them all…turkey protein! Allow for some sweet potatoes (in its natural form - that means no marshmallow), cranberry sauce (fiber-rich goodness), beets (get those nitrates to circulate oxygen to your muscles), and broccoli and Brussel sprouts (Greens! Greens! Greens!) to hit your plate. The final ingredient to most Thanksgiving platters is of course the turkey. Don’t shy away from a little extra meat, the extra protein will help your muscle recovery and the added phosphorous and zinc will help boost a multitude of body functions and bone health. Be smart and careful not to overdo it. Don’t be afraid to enjoy the dessert table, just try to be sure that your plate on that final sweet round doesn’t outweigh your veggies, proteins, and complex carbs.
3. Kick Your Feet Up…For a Time
Without having the same responsibilities of what would amount to a normal Thursday, Thanksgiving is a nice opportunity to relax a bit and put your feet up. After a morning run/workout (Tip #1) your body deserves a bit of a break. What you, as a runner, cannot afford to do however is let a stationary position ruin your running schedule for the rest of the week. Be sure to take the necessary precautions to keep your muscles warm and loose. While it’s easy to let the couch permanently learn the intricacies of your rear end, try and stand and move about for at least 5 minutes for every 30-45 minutes of lounging. After your morning workout and before bed that night be sure to work through some simple sets of stretches to make sure that your lower body muscle groups will be more than ready to move and function come Friday.
4. Alcohol…Good but Not Quite the Drink of the Gods
Under 21 years old? Stop Reading! For all of us over-21 runner types, if you do enjoy the occasional adult beverage, Thanksgiving does not have to be the day to stop. It’s all about quantity control, moderation, and knowing your body. Research has shown that a moderate consumption amount (no more than 3 standard drinks per day) can actually have health benefits including managing your cholesterol levels and possibly supplying necessary vitamins and antioxidants to your body. This by no means suggests that you NEED alcohol to be healthy but within reason it won’t necessarily adversely affect your body and training. No time is a good time to try and push your alcohol limits especially when trying to get peak performance out of your body. Allow yourself to relax a bit during the holiday season and if that means 1-2 glasses of wine or a few brews*, by all means have at it! Do what makes you happy while staying safe and keeping things in moderation. Remember, Thanksgiving is a celebration.
*Guide: 1 standard drink = 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, 1.5 ounces of distilled alcohol
5. Don’t stress too much and bask in the enjoyment of your loved ones, some darn tasty eating, and some time away from the daily grind!
Happy Thanksgiving from Charge Running